Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Autumnal Musings and New Year's Resolutions

I am not the first blogger to notice that the seasons have changed, and that fall is upon us. I would also not be the first blogger to mention that fall is my favourite season. But, I have come to the conclusion over the years that it is perfectly acceptable to be neither first nor best at everything.

So, have you noticed that the world is starting to smell like fall?

For as long as I can remember, fall has always stood for new beginnings in my life. Even before it meant back-to-school for me, it meant back-to-school for my older sister, and corresponding changes to my own little life. Fall always meant new clothes, clean notebooks that I hadn't messed up with doodles, full ballpoint pens, sharp pencils, and day planners that, this year, I would keep track of all my homework in, and never miss any assignments. I got excited about the new school year, because it was a fresh start, with a new teacher, and a chance to be the kind of student that I knew that I could be if I really buckled down. Then, as I finished each degree, I moved to a new place, a new school, a new city, and started on the next stage of my education. And this time, I promised myself, I wouldn't just coast by, I would really study hard, and I would be at the top of my class, instead of content to simply accept the comfortable place not-quite-at-the-top that came fairly easily to me.

I never understood why we celebrated New Year's in the winter. I would try to pretend that January was a fresh start, and I would make all kinds of resolutions that I knew, deep down, I wouldn't keep. But January was too late to really make any changes. I had already blown my chance at being the top of my classes, because I had gotten that B back in November. My notebooks had scribblings all over them, and even though I would be writing a new date when I got back from break, it was still the same class, the same school year, with the same classmates who already knew I was annoying.

If you're Jewish, fall is the time of year with the highest density of holidays, including Rosh Hashanah, which is the Jewish New Year. New Year's in the fall - I guess my idea isn't such a novel one after all. And while they're at it, they gave New Year's a meaning, too, it's the anniversary of the creation of the world. That's a pretty great thing to celebrate if you want a holiday for new beginnings, I'd say. And they top it all off with some good, clean, sin-confessing. A whole day of it, in fact.

We went to some Messianic Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services back when we were living in Toronto, and we really enjoyed them. And we have made an effort every year to eat apples and honey (symbolizing the sweetness of the New Year) and to take a walk in nature somewhere (to remember God's creation). This year, I was at a wedding on Rosh Hashanah, and there were no more apples by the time I reached the chocolate fountain, but graham crackers dipped in liquid chocolate definitely fit the "sweet" requirement, even if they did fall a little bit short of the "natural" symbolism. As for symbolism, I can't imagine a better day to begin a new life together, though.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, Happy New Year. Or Unhappy New Year, as the case may seem to be. As much as fall has always represented new beginnings for me in the past, this year sure has been shaping up pretty unbeginningily so far. I really enjoyed the wedding this weekend, and it was wonderful to catch up with old friends, but it did become tiresome repeating the same uninspiring story over and over. It's so much easier to go to gatherings like that when you're excited about what you're doing in your life, rather than feeling like you're treading water until you can start living again.

I still have about a week until Yom Kippur. To confess my sins and make a fresh start. Maybe I need a new attitude more than new circumstances. Or maybe I should buy myself some new notebooks and pens and see where it takes me. This year, I will underline the titles on every page. In red. With a ruler.


Phil said...

i like the january new year's day

I can definitely empathize to a degree with your feelings on the fall - and for the same reasons, too. Though moreso when i was actually in school. I would consider the fall a beginning (as i would also consider summer a beginning - specifically because it signalled that it's time to vacation and relax), but january is what i would consider the beginning. Now that i'm no longer in the education system, fall and summer are feeling less like "beginnings" (though summer still retains some of its beginning-ness), and january is feeling more like the biggest one (if not the only one). I guess it had something to do with considering Christmas being at the end of the year, or more appropriately, that Christmas was the culmination of the year's events. I would like to say that it's solely because "the birth of Christ signalled the beginning of all things new, allowing redemption of the old, and salvation of the broken," but it's also because "that's when we get to hang out with family and friends," and "that's when i get loot." Hey, it's a multi-purposed holy day, so sue me! Anyways, january 1st would mark the end of the Christ mass week and the beginning of a year looking forward towards the next one.

EarthenForge said...

I didn't realize that Rosh Hashana also celebrates the anniversary of the creation of the world. What a truely beautiful thing to celebrate, but it's funny that in this region it corresponds to our world's death (lovely though it may be) or slip into slumber. Now you've got me wondering what climate changes are currently occuring in the Eastern Mediterranian area (assuming this holiday originated there).

Alistair said...

As I am just now catching up on these older entries I am confident that no one will ever read this. My input will however be logged along side the rest of these for future civilizations to unearth.

I think it's the school calendar that is wrong. It should start in January and continue throughout the year with 1 and 2 week breaks instead of 3 months.